Five Line Fiction: Kill Or Be Killed

“Bait her with feints and uncork that right hand as soon as she bites,” Coach modeled the necessary movements as an example to pair with his words.

Clarissa believed her MMA debut was going better than the panic in Coach’s voice would suggest, but that’s when she realized what was absent—at the most needed moment—from her mindset: violence. Kill or be killed.

Leaving the stool to enter the third, and final, round, Clarissa bit down hard on her mouthpiece, trapping Coach’s advice in her skull and severing the ‘happy-to-be-there’ mentality.

“Lovely execution, Clarissa,” Coach repeated as though he’d been zapped into a state of constant shock after Clarissa knocked her opponent out cold.

Prompted from Friday’s Five Lines or Less Challenge at: https://patriciasplace.me/2020/02/07/friday-5-lines-or-less-9/.

Prompted from The Word of the Day Challenge at: https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/lovely/.

Prompted from Fandango’s Word of the Day Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/02/09/fowc-with-fandango-bait/.

Six-Sentence Story: Battle Scars

Any words of encouragement—good luck, have fun, break a leg—other than what Caleb’s mom offered before each fight would have been better: “Why do you want to take a chance of messing up that cute, little face?”

While she saw Caleb’s youthful glow—a trait embedded into every mother’s DNA—a massive frame of muscle, hardened from years of wrestling, turned to look at his mother, and a face—accessorized with knobby, cauliflower ears and a nose hooked like a question mark for the unknown number of breaks suffered—smiled widely, assuring her that there was nothing to worry about.

Of course, the move to pro invited plenty of worry, and Caleb’s coach zeroed in on elbows, especially for his upcoming debut against Mark Riley—a fighter with a reputation for slicing open opponents with the points of his arms like they were blunt force carving tools.

Coach spelled out the game plan from day one of camp, “All you wrestlers are the same: you’re useless on your back, so every movement—whether on offense or defense—is to keep us from winding up like a tortoise on its shell. Got it?”

Unfortunately, the entire strategy focused on not getting into a particular position, instead of what to do if it were to actually happen, and the symmetry in Caleb’s face was disfigured—a roadmap of scar tissue and a reconstructed cheekbone—forever.

Prompted from the Six-Sentence Story at: https://girlieontheedge1.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/sundays-six-sentence-story-word-prompt-93/.

Prompted from Fandango’s Word of the Day Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/02/05/fowc-with-fandango-forever/.

Also prompted from One Word Sunday at: https://travelwithintent.com/2020/02/02/symmetry-barbican-london/.

Ten-Sentence Story: Chasing Dollars Right Down the Drain

Words aren’t supposed to hurt, but in the world of MMA, they can most definitely lead in that direction.

A heated exchange online between Northern California’s Lee Stunts and Oregon’s Ray Tiffer caught the eye of Four-Ounce Fury’s Promoter, Richie Wild. Within the hour, Wild had contacted each party’s management team, drew up the contracts, and calendared the promotion’s most anticipated main event to date. 

It wasn’t so much the content shared on the ListenUp app that garnered Wild’s attention; rather, it was the tidal wave of interaction generated from the fanbases of both fighters. Each comment, ‘like,’ and share was another dollar in the bank.

Four-Ounce Fury 8 went down at an abandoned ice-skating rink in Ashland, Oregon—the ideal midway point for Stunts, representing Humboldt, and Tiffer, from somewhere around Bend.

The first bout of the evening hadn’t even begun, and the show was already sold out—nearly unimaginable on the local circuit. Wild even sold an additional two-hundred “standing room only” tickets, but he had to cut that off—shredding his sensibilities to pieces—and turn away customers with grips of cash when every clear path vanished. 

Initially, Wild saw full seats, beers steadily streaming, and a snack bar line that never ended—profit, profit, profit; however, the tension surrounding the main event thickened in the atmosphere, and he was able to see the situation for what it actually was: an understaffed and underpaid security team, alcohol-fueled hostility, and a growing awareness to the crowd’s level of unpredictability.

Before the opening bell sounded, a riot erupted outside of the cage, and Wild didn’t hesitate to escape through the nearest exit. From a safe distance, the captain of Four-Ounce Fury dialed 9-1-1 and watched his ship sink.

Prompted from MMA Storytime’s Ten-Sentence Story Challenge at: https://mmastorytime.com/2020/02/03/ten-sentence-story-challenge-4/.

Also prompted from Fandango’s Word of the Day Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/02/04/fowc-with-fandango-exchange/.

Ten-Sentence Story: That’s Illegal

“Crazy Train” Carl DuFrain elevated his hands toward the heavens, and his scowl lightened into a wide smile. Other than some blood trickling from the mouth and an eye—swelling at an astronomical rate—becoming a mountain out of a molehill, DuFrain’s opponent, Bucky Farmer, was sound asleep. 

For several, scary minutes, Farmer remained flat on his back—motionless. When he did, eventually, awaken, screams of pain frayed the nerves of spectators. Wide-eyed silence from every seat called back in response. 

The cage side physician inventoried the damage inflicted by DuFrain’s battering ram of a right hand—a broken orbital, most certainly, but only an x-ray could reveal its extent. Showing more and more signs of life, the doctor continued his examination.

As the doctor pried open the eye that had sealed shut, considerable amounts of blood and chunks of membrane poured from the eye’s socket.

“His eye has ruptured; we need an ambulance, IMMEDIATELY!”

The doctor’s intuition led him to demand that the commission remove DuFrain’s gloves; thereby, revealing egregious handwraps that were comparable to a corked bat in baseball.

Prompted from MMA Storytime’s Ten-Sentence Story Challenge at: https://mmastorytime.com/2020/01/20/ten-sentence-story-challenge-2/.

Prompted from Fandango’s Word of the Day Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/01/20/fowc-with-fandango-egregious/.

A Young Man's Game

“MMA is a young man’s game.”

Jerry chucked an empty beer can across the room at the T.V. the moment the words left the commentator’s mouth. He was coherent enough to throw an empty can—this time—because it was the only working television in the apartment, and the last thing he needed was another cracked screen.

In Jerry’s drunken reality, neither of The Big Show’s commentators could have said anything right during the broadcast; one way or another, they were catching some tin across the chin. If I had been allowed in there, I could show them this old dog’s tricks

The chances of Jerry ever getting an opportunity in The Big Show had been locked away in a kennel, according to his Manager. Although Jerry’s Manager delivered The Big Show’s rejection over the years in creative ways, the news never hit him in the gut with any less power; the most recent denial, however, was the knockout blow.

Jerry dreamt about becoming a star in The Big Show, potentially a long-reigning champion, since beginning his trek through MMA nearly two decades ago. Just before Jerry turned thirty—the most promising point in his prizefighting career—a horrific car accident derailed his trajectory. A driver high on meth sent Jerry, for over three years, to the lowest point in his life: financial ruin, crippling depression, and a bum knee in need of multiple surgeries and countless rounds worth of rehabilitation. 

“Be straight with me, Doc. Am I going to fight again?”

The doctor dove within his infinite wisdom of mangled knees and said, “There’s a good chance you could.”

Those were the words that pulled Jerry from bed every morning like the sweet smell of cinnamon rolls; otherwise, he may never have left the safe haven of his sheets, stuffing his face, instead, with pizza and soda until surpassing the super heavyweight division.

Following several successful scraps opposite some of the sport’s bright hopefuls—thanks largely in part to his Manager’s creative matchmaking and promoting ability—Jerry, again, found himself as a blip onThe Big Show’s radar. 

“I just got word that The Big Show’s scouts will be on hand for your upcoming fight. Isn’t this great!” Jerry’s Manager was bursting with self-satisfaction.

It was great then, and it was still great as Jerry made his way toward the cage. The crowd’s wail of disdain for Jerry, the outisder, muffled when he noted The Big Show’s scouts seated in the second row. They came for a show, and they’re not leaving without one.

After the entirety of three grueling rounds, Jerry and Stevie “Sledgehammer” Cortez wore their effort in one another’s blood as well as bruising and swelling from head to toe. Who in their right minds would doubt either of their desire?

Jerry’s Manager approached the marred martial artist while being attended to by the physician backstage. He didn’t beat around the bush, “They passed. Sorry, man.”

“Did they say why?”

His Manager shook his head; the crow’s feet in Jerry’s eyes appeared as he forced a smile onto his weathered face, aware his age was a deciding factor.

Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/01/06/fowc-with-fandango-creative/.

Also prompted from the Word of the Day Challenge at: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2020/01/06/wisdom/.

Cheaters Never Prosper

Jim Johns opened his Looky-Here app, eager to promote his upcoming fight for the Punisher Series Middleweight Championship, and found a message from his opponent, Grant Fletchling. 

It said: “You’re a fucking cheater, and you know it. You better not try any of that dirty shit with me.”

As early as Jim could remember, he competed by the motto: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. Whether slinking around after being “frozen” in a game of freeze tag during recess, syphoning money from the till while acting as the banker in Monopoly, or slugging it out in a cage with men of equal weight, winning was at all costs.

Pundits online—Jim called them keyboard warriors—noted the repeated barrage fouls early on, which he brushed off as haters. The tone was much different when, eventually, those within his community—other fighters, fans, and even some teammates—scrutinized his sporting etiquette.

Several of Jim’s previous dance partners had their careers stalled, or even ruined, because of Jim’s antics, playing fast and loose with a set of guidelines that are minimal to begin with. 

Hector Villanueva, a veteran journeyman with a swarming fanbase in every corner of California, suffered the most tragic fate at the hands—or more specifically: finger—of Jim; he was forced to retire when an extended digit stabbed him in the eye, detaching the retina—only thirty percent of his vision would return. 

Another unfortunate victim of Jim’s masquerade as a martial artist was Trent “Do Something” Dixon. While the round’s end alerts those in the cage to disengage, the advice, recycled since MMA’s inception, never let your guard down is there for a reason. Dixon recalled hearing the horn and wondering what advice his coach would have for him. As Dixon turned toward his corner, Jim launched a concussive right hand into his temple. Jim was disqualified—rightfully so—and Dixon, sadly, has still yet to be medically cleared for any level of physical contact. All seven of Jim’s bouts have involved an eye poke—though none as consequential as Villanueva’s—a fence grab or two, and countless warnings with multiple deductions of points. 

A nasty reputation on the regional circuit began surrounding Jim, and few would roll the dice against someone who made the already dangerous sport an even riskier proposition. The only reason Grant Fletchling accepted the bout to face Jim was because he was nearing an exit from the local scene and onto the global stage; he needed this.

Before the hum of the opening bell disappeared into space, Jim’s fingers swung like flesh swords at Fletchling’s eyes. The ref, keen to how Jim played the game, dished out a stern warning to close his fist. Fletchling spent the remaining two-minutes and twenty-seconds using Jim’s face as target practice with pristine boxing; the round finished without any further fishy-business. 

Midway through the second frame, Fletchling, as instructed by his corner, attempted a takedown. He stapled Jim to the fence, shooting for his midsection as a linebacker making a tackle in the open field. With an explosive twist of his hips, the two would topple to the canvas, where Fletchling would land in side control and deliver some brain-bashing elbows. In a transition so seamless it, at first glance, seemed legal, Jim drew the advantage. By interlocking his toes into the cage and wrenching for a takedown of his own, the maneuver granted Jim the necessary leverage, knocking Fletchling off balance and bringing him to his back. 

Some heavy ground-and-pound, a stoppage soon thereafter, and nobody questioned whether or not it was an honest win. In fact, proceeded along: Jim filled the winner’s circle, surrounded with love and admiration—instead of question marks, and Fletchling was sent back to the drawing board, though the unrealistic strength of Jim’s takedown gnawed at his craw incessantly. 

Fletchling and his team reviewed the tape—over and over and over again. Finally, the son of Fletchling’s Jiu-Jitsu Coach, Anthony, was able to zoom in and slow down the footage for a more detailed analysis. Sure enough, there it was—plain as day; Jim’s toes cinching hold of the steel exterior. An appeal to the California State Athletic Commission was filed immediately.

Following an arduous process, Fletchling’s loss was overturned. Consequently, when the end of the year arrived and it was time for Jim to renew his professional fighting license, CSAC denied the renewal based on the layers of problems proving he was a liability.

Prompted from the Word of the Day Challenge at: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2020/01/01/renewal/.

Prompted from Fandango’s One Word Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2020/01/01/fowc-with-fandango-honest/.

Sweet Chin Music

When Michael told his parents the big news, he knew they would not share in his joy.

It was best to tell them now, so they could begin moving forward—with Michael, as his parents always did—instead of lying, which he briefly debated, and filling his journey with more emotional angst than necessary.

Michael’s words floated into the living room’s air like a butterfly and stung like a vicious uppercut, “I’ve decided, for now, to leave school and turn pro. I already have a fight lined up next month.”

The “for now” Michael inserted didn’t soften the blow. His parents’ facial expressions bounced between disappointment and horror; he received similar looks after he announced his interest in competing as an amateur mixed martial artist last year. They assumed Michael was just going through a phase—much like his wild craze of collecting baseball cards as a young boy.

His parents believed: a full slate of classes and first-seat in the college’s symphony would distract Michael from training. Wrong.

Truth be known, Michael was an artist—mixed, martial, or otherwise. Anything creative he approached with curiosity—from the strings on a violin to the chins of opponents—hummed in perfect harmony. Michael’s mother signed him up for violin lessons at the age of four, and his father enrolled him in Jiu-Jitsu at eight; both, he grew to believe, were as vital to his survival as oxygen—until he scratched the itch he got for cage fighting.

Once Michael’s instructor, and owner of Deadbolt Jiu-Jitsu, added a beginner’s MMA class to the weekly schedule, it spawned his intrigue in the sport. Much like his violin teacher noted a prodigious talent early on, the MMA coach coaxed Michael into planting his green, though lush with confidence, skillset inside a cage.

Michael was hooked at the sound of the bell—the crowd, the noise, the rush. A close decision loss only poured gasoline at the thoughts sparking in Michael’s mind: How far could a cage fighter travel in their career? Could they even have a career to begin with? 

During the last couple months of high school—when Michael was to be applying for colleges—his attention to the strings had snapped. He didn’t hate the violin; he’d just fallen in love with orchestrating violence. Where Michael’s effort toward filling out applications wained, his mother picked up the slack, and he was accepted, along with a generous scholarship, to Long Beach State’s music program.

“Good,” was Michael’s response every time his parent asked how things were going. 

He didn’t want to tell them that he had won five straight fights, or his grades had settled on a losing record. Following Michael’s most recent victory—a slick triangle submission over an undefeated prospect on everyone’s radar—several managers and promoters informed the blossoming up-and-comer that they could increase the value of his stock if he chose to go pro. 

Michael showed his parents some footage from his latest outing, hinting at an imminent return, while home for the summer from his freshman year. Dad was visibly impressed when the referee forced Michael to unlock his stranglehold, and Mom covered her face and watched through the small cracks between her fingers.

“I don’t know what you get out that,” she’d say. She said the same thing, however, when Michael competed in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments as a white belt; however, by the time he was a purple belt, she was the loudest voice in the venue.

Two weeks before the fall semester drew students back to the campus, Michael delivered the direction of his new dream—one of four-ounce gloves, face-punching, ring card girls, bundles of cash, and the allure of championships—would be taking him.

As if in a game of musical chairs, there was only one seat left, and it belonged to MMA.

Prompted from Fandango’s Word of the Day Challenge at: https://fivedotoh.com/2019/12/30/fowc-with-fandango-musical/.